“It’s exhilarating that one of the lessons may be so simple and human: the power of hope.”

-Nick Kristof, the New York Times-

BRAC aims to use the proven ultra-poor graduation approach to reach at least an additional one million people globally through direct implementation, thought leadership in the global community, knowledge dissemination, advocacy and technical assistance. Researchers from Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology demonstrated that BRAC’s model – which provides weekly stipends, technical and life skills training, financial and savings education, health support, and a productive asset like a goat or a cow – empowers the poorest to begin climbing the ladder from extreme poverty in just two years.


BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative provides Technical Assistance on the approach to diverse stakeholders including governments, microfinance institutions, and NGOs. To learn more, visit: bracultrapoorgraduation.org.

Our Approach

The Ultra-Poor


The graduation approach targets a subset of the extreme poor, the ultra-poor, who live on less than 60 cents per day. Typically these are women living on the bottom rung of the economic ladder and are frequently malnourished and living hand to mouth.

A Time Bound Approach


The graduation approach is a time-bound, tested intervention that consists of seven components provided over the course of 24 months. Participants are chosen through a mapping exercise in which community members identify the poorest living among them. Once chosen, participants are visited weekly by a coach and are taught savings, financial management and life skills. These women receive a food stipend, health care, and an asset transfer like a goat or a cow. Participants are also integrated into the community to ensure on-going support. Through this process, BRAC helps to unlock each person’s intrinsic potential to put them on a path of upward mobility.

Measured Success


BRAC piloted this approach in Bangladesh in the 1990’s and has evolved it over the last 25 years. BRAC uses this approach because it works to reach the ultra-poor and create sustainable livelhoods. Research in Bangladesh shows that 95 percent of participants who have gone through this program get out of ultra-poverty and stay out three years after the program is complete. Visit the research page to learn more about how it has been tested in eight other countries.

Program Highlights

Science Magazine

Science Magazine

A persistent concern about well intentioned efforts to improve living standards for the 1.2 billion people who survive on less than $1.25 US per day is figuring out what works. Banerjee et al. describe encouraging results from a set of pilot projects in Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Pakistan, and Peru encompassing 11,000 households. Read more
NY Times: The Power of Hope is Real

NY Times: The Power of Hope is Real

Nick Kristof of the New York Times sites research from BRAC. “An awkward truth for bleeding hearts like myself is that there has never been much rigorous evidence that outside aid can sustainably lift people out of poverty.” Read more
The Economist: Graduating from Destitution

The Economist: Graduating from Destitution

The Economist explains that it takes much more skill and will-power for the poor to get ahead. Even the most successful schemes to help this population often don’t work across different contexts with multiple populations. It points to BRAC’s findings as a solution for the poorest to get out of poverty. Read more

Our Impact

Path to Prosperity

Romena is a participants in BRAC’s ultra-poor graduation program in Rangpur, Bangladesh. Through the program she was able to transform her life and get out of poverty. Her progress and determination is inspiring.